In 1845, lawyer, political philosopher, and abolitionist Lysander Spooner wrote and published “The Unconstitutionality of Slavery,” in which he asserts that the Constitution, given the wording of it and the legal meanings of the wording, do not sanction slavery, but rather the wording of the Constitution lawfully prevents slavery from happening or being lawfully practiced or present in the U.S. Tucked away in this condemnation of slavery is another claim by Spooner, one that at his time would probably bring very little controversy, but in todays world, if made, would probably ruin one’s reputation and be near to suicide, given today’s ultra-feminist and politically correct world. In a note in chapter VIII The Constitution of the United States, Spooner asserts that given the use of the pronouns “he” and “his” in the description of the President of the United States in Article II of the Constitution, only males may run for and be elected president. Spooner writes, “That is, male persons. The constitution, whenever it uses the pronoun, in speaking of the President, uniformly uses the masculine gender—from which it may be inferred that male persons only were intended to be made eligible to the office.”
Spooner is a stickler for words and legal definitions of words throughout his entire argument in this work. Indeed, Spooner says,
“It is a rule of law, in the construction of all statutes, contracts and legal instruments whatsoever—that is, those which courts design, not to invalidate, but to enforce—that where words are susceptible of two meanings, one consistent, and the other inconsistent, with liberty, justice and right, that sense is always to be adopted, which is consistent with right, unless there be something in other parts of the instrument sufficient to prove that the other is the true meaning.”
“…this rule…requires courts to give an innocent construction to all words that are susceptible of it…”
“This rule applies as well to constitutions as to contracts and statutes; for constitutions are but contracts between the people, whereby they grant authority to, and establish law for the government.”
But it in his assertion that because only the male pronoun in used in the description of the President in Article II of the Constitution, only males are constitutionally allowed to qualify for the presidency, Spooner rejects his own rule that whenever two definitions exist for a word, the one that encourages more liberty and right is the one to be accepted as the legal definition. Indeed, Spooner assumes the pronouns “he” and “his” used in Article II to describe the president have only the meaning of the male gender. But Spooner fails to realize that these pronouns, while having one meaning of the male gender, have another grammatical meaning and use, when used to refer to nouns that contain no gender, words like “president.” The word “president” denotes no gender, and in fact many general nouns in English do not grammatically denote gender, but remain neuter. And there is a grammatical rule, dating back to Spooner’s time, that when the pronoun “he” is used and its antecedent is a neuter noun, such as the word “president,” the pronoun “he” refers to mankind or persons in general, not one particular gender, in this case the male gender. I will explain in further detail:
The definition of pronoun “he.” Spooner is wrong in when he says only men can run for president because he fails to take his own laws regarding meanings of words to heart. He says that if there is ever a meaning of a word favorable to liberty, then that meaning must be accepted and put to the word as the legal meaning. Spooner fails to do this with the word “he” as used in the Constitution, particularly regarding eligibility to be the President, and even Senators. The word “he” has the acknowledged meaning of the masculine sex, true enough. But it also has the definition “Of things not sexually distinguished.” And in the case of the Constitution, Article II, the antecedent of the word “he” in all cases is either the word “president” or “person,” words of no sexual distinction, and he is merely used instead of “he/she” because “he/she” was not used in that time, and “he” refers to any person who is elected to be president, whether male or female. There is no specification as to whether the president must be male or female, for the words “president” and “person(s)” are not descriptive of a particular sex. The words are neuter. Thus, the pronoun “he” that refers back to “president” and “person(s)” does not refer specifically to the masculine form of the pronoun, for the antecedents are of the utmost importance, linguistically. The masculine pronoun “his” also appears in Article II, referring to the president, but again, “his,” while masculine, has in truth a neuter meaning, for its antecedent is a neuter word, “president.” Thus, grammatically, there is no specification as to whether the president must be male or female. This is the intention of the ratifiers of the Constitution, “We the people,” for such a grammatical understanding of the words “he” and “his” existed in their time, they knew of it, and such is the liberal sense of the word, the one that guarantees the most liberty, right and honesty to all people, and so such is the legal meaning of the word that must be adopted by the courts, and indeed, seems to have been adopted since women have run for president and we have women representatives and senators.
This definition of the pronoun "he" comes from the Oxford English Dictionary:
This definition of the pronoun "he" comes from the Oxford English Dictionary:
“2. Of things not sexually distinguished:”
Another piece of proof of this is that there is no seeming grammatical prohibition against female representatives in the Constitution in Article 1. Never does the pronouns “he” or “his” appear. The terms are completely neuter. It’s silly to assert that the intention of the Constitution or of the ratifiers is to allow female representatives, but not female senators and a female president, for in the time of the ratifications, no man, let alone a woman, could have expected women governmental officers given the extremely patriarchal society of that time, and as such, it would have been silly to assert they would have allowed female representatives but not female senators and a female president. They did not even see women as governmental officers, for politics was a man’s subject, dominated by the male. But either way, the way the wording of the Constitution is, dictated to them and to us today that there was and still is a possibility of women governmental officers, for the grammar shows such, and the more liberal of the meanings, or rather, the meaning that promotes the most liberty, as asserted by Spooner himself, must be adopted as the legal meaning of the word. Thus, Spooner is wrong in his interpretation of the Constitution regarding eligibility of women as Presidents.
Thus, linguistically and logically, according to the words present and lacking in the Constitution, women are fully capable of running for all governmental offices, including representatives, judges, senators, and the presidency, etc. And the history of this country has proven this, especially as of the 20th century. There is no natural law that prohibits women from running for governmental offices. Any such laws that exist in the world come from the unrighteous and unlawful domination of man over women, for nature made man and woman equal before its sight in terms of their humanity, and as John Locke has said, make man and woman joint rulers or governors. So therefore, because nature has made man and woman joint governors, each capable of governing their family, man-made governments cannot prohibit women or men from holding government office and governing their society they have chosen to live in. Of course, to say that man and woman are equal as human beings and governors of society in the eyes of nature, does not mean they are equal in all ways and things, for they are not, not sexually, not physically, and not natural skills-wise, among other things. Only women can bear child. Only men can fertilize the eggs of women. Only women have their sexual organs and features while only men have theirs. Man is naturally stronger and rougher than women, while women are naturally weaker in strength than men and more peaceful and emotional than men. Thus, while nature sees man and woman as equal before it’s sight as human beings with rights and as governors of the world and society, they are not completely equal in every way.